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OJAC Celebrates 10 Years of the Cell Series

OJAC Celebrates 10 Years of the Cell Series

Ten years ago the OJAC renovated its historic 1877 jail building. Following the renovation, the Asian collection was installed in the two lower galleries with new interpretive materials and exhibition furniture. The upstairs was to be devoted to a series titled A Cell of One's Own initiated by Margaret Blagg, the director at that time. Since that first exhibit in the fall of 2008, which featured artist Denny Pickett, the now titled Cell Series has hosted 28 other shows in the series. With exception of only a couple of artists, all are from or have a close connection to Texas. 

The Cell Series, along with other exhibitions, has garnered the OJAC a statewide reputation as one of the few art institutions that promotes contemporary Texas artists and their work. This is not unusual for the OJAC, as our co-founders Reilly Nail and Bill Bomar did the exact same in past OJAC exhibits as well as through their personal collection. 

For many visitors to the museum, this series of exhibits may be their only exposure to vanguard art being created at this moment in history. The Cell Series presents a rare opportunity to encounter work that is attempting to interpret and translate the world we universally experience in creative and surprising ways. 

I am reminded of a story that makes being part of a museum staff worth the many efforts. During a student art competition a few years ago, students were asked to created an artwork in response to the work of a Cell Series artist and submit a comment to accompany their piece. One student wrote a short statement that included the sentence, "I've never seen anything like that before." That simple statement succinctly sums up what many artists are attempting to do - create something never before seen. I sincerely hope that is what we all see in art and life.. to see and experience the "new" even though it can sometimes be challenging and unfamiliar. There is no guarantee in art or life that we will like the new things, but I am confident that if we are openminded, art will allow us to see something unique and many things new again. 

Our audiences have enjoyed ten years of the Cell Series and can now help us welcome the 30th exhibit that will feature the work of Cam Schoepp this fall. Coincidentally, founder Reilly Nail was a friend and collector of Schoepp and his work beginning about 30 years ago. It only seems appropriate that his exhibit will help us celebrate this moment in the OJAC's continuing history of supporting and exhibiting Texas artists. 

- Patrick Kelly 

OJAC Executive Director 

Banner Image: CAM SCHOEPP, paint/lift/line (installation detail), 2017, paint, chain and barrel, electric motor. Courtesy of the artist. 

37th Hour

37th Hour

Recently the OJAC acquired 37th Hour, a large and colorful painting by Brooklyn based (but Texas born) artist Matt Kleberg. I was curious about the title so I did some digging on my own, but came up short and even more perplexed. What I had considered as possibly inspired by Southern Gothic writings, or even a biblical code (as suggested by the internet), or simply an ironic or random phrase, actually turned out to be a very personal story. With Matt’s permission, here’s the inside scoop that inspired the title:

Matt Kleberg: "[37th Hourwas in a show in NYC last year. I was working on the paintings for that show while Liz (his wife)was pregnant and the show opened pretty soon after we had Waylon. The titles of the paintings all reflected the birth, and 37th Hour was in reference to the 37.5 hour long labor that Liz had, and the drawn out anticipation of it all. The meaning of the work for me, or at least the context that gives a painting a reason for being is always shifting. During Liz’s pregnancy, the empty niches in the work took on an expectant, anticipatory charge. They became about waiting and wondering about who this person coming into our lives was going to be. The paintings, in that regard, were 'pregnant spaces'." 

MATT KLEBERG, 37th Hour, 2017, oil stick on canvas, 72 x 58 in. Museum purchase. 2018.002

MATT KLEBERG, 37th Hour, 2017, oil stick on canvas, 72 x 58 in. Museum purchase. 2018.002



OJAC Receives Art Works Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

OJAC Receives Art Works Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

 National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $25 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $22,000 to the Old Jail Art Center for the upcoming exhibition René Treviño: A New Codex. In this exhibition contemporary Mexican-American artist René Treviño will create an installation comprised of his own work alongside his personal selections from the Old Jail Art Center’s Pre-Columbian collection. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts. 

“It is energizing to see the impact that the arts are making throughout the United States. These NEA-supported projects, such as this one to the OJAC, are good examples of how the arts build stronger and more vibrant communities, improve well-being, prepare our children to succeed, and increase the quality of our lives,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “At the National Endowment for the Arts, we believe that all people should have access to the joy, opportunities, and connections the arts bring.” 

“An NEA Art Works grant is a validation of the type of quality exhibitions the OJAC provides to a diverse audience. This support is vital to the mission of the OJAC to provide art for all that is free for all,” said OJAC Executive Director Patrick Kelly. “In addition, it allows visitors to see ancient objects in a new light with the help of contemporary artist René Treviño.” 

Utilizing extensive research of Mayan and other cultures’ carvings, Treviño develops contemporary images from Mesoamerica’s ancient steles and codices. He then combines these forms and symbols derived from ancient culture with popular culture references such as Wonder Woman, Oreo cookies, and pop designer Lisa Frank’s canon. The OJAC installation will incorporate Treviño’s large-scale works on paper along with smaller works on leather skins and short looped digital animations. Many of the objects in the OJAC Pre-Columbian collection to be utilized are figurative. Those figures become the “players” in drawings and animations. Placing his own sculptural objects, like jewelry, masks, or small drawings, into the vitrines with the objects from the museum’s collection, will further challenge visitors to see and seek relationships between the ancient and contemporary. The result is an artist’s created world that references our past and speaks to our present and future. 

 René Treviño: A New Codex is on view from September 15, 2018 – August 24, 2019. This exhibition is organized by the OJAC and curated by Patrick Kelly. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit 

Additional Support

Support for René Treviño: A New Codex is also provided by Anonymous, Erin Cluley, Pam and Bob Tidwell, and Travis Vandergriff.

General Operating support is provided by the Still Water Foundation, Summerlee Foundation, T.J. Brown and C.A. Lupton Foundation, Texas Prairieland Foundation, and the OJAC’s dedicated board, patrons, and members. 

 OJAC Mission

The Old Jail Art Center seeks to enhance the lives of area residents and visitors by providing art for all







2018 - Year of Conservation

2018 - Year of Conservation

As you may recall, the Old Jail Art Center designated 2017 as the "Year of the Membership" and successfully increased our membership by about 120 percent. 2018 will be the "Year of Conservation" and will encompass a variety of initiatives. Conservation, preservation, sustainability, and stewardship are all related concepts that describe the multiple projects taking place throughout the year.  

Efforts to increase funding for much needed conservation and preservation on works in the art and archives collections will focus on the Fort Worth Circle paintings and the original Shackelford County courthouse drawings. The OJAC has already taken the first step in its conservation endeavors by submitting a grant to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to fund a survey of 83 paintings by Fort Worth Circle artists. During that process, it was realized that the OJAC has the largest holding of Fort Worth Circle art works by any museum in the world. The original courthouse drawings on linen in the OJAC's Robert E. Nail Jr. Archives are in need of stabilization and archival framing. These are just two examples on a prioritized list of collections care. 

The much-anticipated initial series of video interviews in the Ardon Judd Oral History project administered through the OJAC's Robert E. Nail Jr. Archives will debut in October. This project demonstrates the importance of preserving regional history, while also making that history accessible to visitors, students and researchers. This wealth of information will be valuable resource for research, education and enjoyment for current and future generations.

The OJAC takes another step in sustainability by being awarded a grant from the The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club ® to install solar panels, which will reduce our energy expenses. Sun Club funds will also be provided for education programs that will dovetail with our current curriculum utilizing collection objects to promote stewardship and sustainability of our natural resources. Not only will the OJAC take a leadership role in this important endeavor for our region of Texas, but also reduce operating cost - directing those savings to other programs. 

These activities emphasize the imporantance of the OJAC as not only the primary repository of cultural and historical items and information, but also our obligation to protect and preserve that which we hold in public trust. 

- Patrick Kelly

Executive Director and Curator of Exhibitions 



The Path Into the Blue

The Path Into the Blue

OJAC Collection favorite Der Weg ins Blaue (The Path Into the Blue) will be on exhibit at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, Germany this March.  The Pinakothek der Moderne is one of the largest museums in the world for art, architecture and design of the 20th and 21st centuries.

"The exhibition, 'Construction of Mystery' is the first major exhibition of Paul Klee's work to be held at the Pinakothek de Moderne. The substantial holdings in Munich will be presented alongside more than 120 works from important Klee collections in Europe, the United States and Japan. The show follows Klee's path as a 'thinking artist' who systematically explores and transcends boundaries of the rational in his work. At the center of the exhibition is the 1920s, a time in which Klee responded to the challenges of the new technological world and its impact on the creativity of the modern artist. As a Bauhaus master, Klee questioned the dominance of rationalism and strove to balance understanding and feeling, construction and intuition. This exhibition shows the continued relevance of Klee's work, addressing fundamental conflicts of the modern subject. " -Pinakothek der Moderne 

PAUL KLEE    Der Weg ins Blaue (The Path into the Blue) , 1934  Encaustic on canvas mounted on board  Gift of Bill Bomar, 1991.002.


Der Weg ins Blaue (The Path into the Blue), 1934

Encaustic on canvas mounted on board

Gift of Bill Bomar, 1991.002.

OJAC Staff and Board Members attended the opening reception of Paul Klee:  Construction of Mystery.  This exhibition   will be on view at the Pinakothek de Moderne from March 1, 2018 - June 6, 2018. 

OJAC Staff and Board Members attended the opening reception of Paul Klee: Construction of Mystery. This exhibition will be on view at the Pinakothek de Moderne from March 1, 2018 - June 6, 2018.